There are few places in White Bear Lake, Minnesota where 400 people can mingle with history. On Saturday, April 10th, that is what happened at the former Johnson/White Bear Boatworks, an old place profiled in “Tales of the Road-Highway 61.” (Both the book and the film.)The occasion was the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society’s annual fundraiser and the venue was appropriate because (sadly) it appears the boatworks will soon be lost to history. There have been valiant efforts to save it. The future is unclear. It could make way for condos, or (fingers crossed) it might be the site for a community center/sailing museum.
This is Steve Johnson, a descendent of the founder of the Boatworks: John O. Johnson. John O. was a quiet guy but brilliant. I would think John O. would have been bemused by all the fuss the event created. Steve and the rest of the Johnson family seemed to enjoy themselves. Check out Steve in the movie. He’s the skipper of the last racing scow of a specific class made by the Boatworks. The boat is beautiful and as fast as the wind itself! I was at the event to talk about why we included the Johnson Boatworks in TOTR. The story is such a good one. It was a no-brainer for inclusion.I also had a surprise for the director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society. A check for $1,500. Part of my proceeds from the book that I promised I’d spilt with the ten different organizations along the highway that helped make TOTR possible.Now, if the Boatworks, or at least a part of the Boatworks could be preserved…that would be money well spent! For more photos of a lovely night check out our Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=101915670064